Acquisition and presentation of follicular dendritic cell-bound antigen by lymph node-resident dendritic cells

J Exp Med. 2011 Jan 17;208(1):135-48. doi: 10.1084/jem.20100354. Epub 2010 Dec 20.


Follicular dendritic cells (DCs [FDCs]) are prominent stromal cell constituents of B cell follicles with the remarkable ability to retain complement-fixed antigens on their cell surface for extended periods of time. These retained immune complexes have long been known to provide the antigenic stimulus that drives antibody affinity maturation, but their role in cellular immunity has remained unclear. In this study, we show that FDC-retained antigens are continually sampled by lymph node-resident DCs for presentation to CD8 T cells. This novel pathway of antigen acquisition was detectable when FDCs were loaded with purified antigens bound into classical antigen-antibody immune complexes, as well as after pregnancy, when they are loaded physiologically with antigens associated with the complement-fixed microparticles released from the placenta into maternal blood. In both cases, ensuing antigen presentation was profoundly tolerogenic, as it induced T cell deletion even under inflammatory conditions. These results significantly broaden the scope of FDC function and suggest new ways that the complement system and persistent antigen presentation might influence T cell activation and the maintenance of peripheral immune tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells, Follicular / immunology*
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Pregnancy


  • Antigens